LANCASTER — Drugs were the probable motivating factor behind a residential robbery in Lancaster in which a man was tortured and killed and his girlfriend seriously injured, authorities said Friday.
The dead man, Anthony Readell Hogan, 27, was described by homicide detectives as a marijuana dealer with drug convictions going back to 1983.
Investigators said they believe three men broke into the house in the 3500 block of West Avenue K-10 at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday in search of cash and drugs.
"It appears they found a substantial amount of marijuana, but not the money," said Sgt. Tom Harris, a homicide investigator for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "But that is speculative, since we are going by empty bags we found."
Investigators also speculate that the assailants poured a flammable liquid on Hogan from his waist to his crotch and ignited it. "It's an indication that it's some kind of torture to make him give up some information about the drugs, money or whatever," Harris said.
Hogan's live-in girlfriend, Treshana Laronda Sherouse, 22, was bound, gagged and beaten. She was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center, where her condition was upgraded from critical to serious on Friday. But she was still semi-comatose from head injuries and unable to discuss the incident with investigators, authorities said.
The assailants apparently drove away from the house in the couple's burgundy-and-white Oldsmobile Cutlass, which was discovered later Thursday at an abandoned business in Pico Rivera, Harris said. Sheriff's deputies spent Friday searching the car for evidence such as blood and hair samples but did not disclose their findings.
The couple was discovered by friends who stopped by the house Thursday morning.
Witnesses saw three men leave Hogan's house at the time the slaying apparently occurred, Harris said. A composite drawing is expected to be released of one suspect, who is described as in his early 20s, African American and about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with hanging braids and a deep voice.
Neighbors described Hogan as a peaceful ice-cream truck driver who enjoyed working on his single-story house.
Sneiderman is a Times staff writer and Sabbatini is a correspondent.
. . . about the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys. B10